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Chinese growth slows to three-year lows

China's economy grew at 8.1% in the first quarter of 2012 – its slowest level of growth in nearly three years.

The Asian powerhouse slowed from an 8.9% gain in the fourth quarter of 2011, the country’s National Bureau of Statistics reported.

The growth is still more than three times the speed of most western economies.

The government reported on Friday its weakest expansion since the second quarter of 2009, amid weak trade and newly imposed lending controls to dampen a feared property bubble and inflation.

China’s growth has slowed since 2010 when global demand for its exports weakened in the wake of the global financial crisis and the Beijing government tightened lending to cool an overheated economy and politically dangerous inflation.

Craig James, the head economist of CommSec Research, says there is no doubt the Chinese economy has slowed down.

“It has been a self-induced slowdown to get inflation in check,” James says.

The total value of Chinese exports was $US430.02 billion, up by 7.6%, while the value of imports was $US429.35 billion, up by 6.9%, according to the report.

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